This Lent, I have been reflecting upon the 40 days of fasting that Our Lord did, as well as the Sorrowful Mysteries. With these reflections a manifold set of questions came into my mind. Our Lord suffered and died for my sins, for He had no sins. Our Lord suffered and died for my pride, for my ignoring the obvious, for my comfort. Our Lord suffered because I knew the way but I strayed from the path willfully. How many times do I instead of carrying the Cross, by my actions, flee from the Cross and abandon Our Lord? Even today, we have examples of many, who would not abandon Our Lord despite uncertainty on how they would die. The Christians in the Middle East who have been killed for refusing to deny Our Lord at the loss of their lives, they know what Lent means, they know what the Cross means. Lent, a time of introspection and mortification is not simply about giving up something we like, but also thinking about our Faith deeply. I have thought about the lives of the martyrs. Many of them had lives which could have been saved if they simply renounced their Faith. If St. Thomas More renounced his faith, he would have surely continued as Lord Chancellor of England. If the Roman martyrs had paid lip service to the idols of Rome, many would have borne a life of leisure and comfort. Lent is about abandoning the idols of comfort, and tearing down obstacles in the Way of the Cross. This Lent, I think often about if my Faith was truly tested. If I had to face suffering and death for my Faith, would I stand for Our Lord or would I deny Him? Would I suffer an Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane? Would I endure a Scourging at the Pillar? Would I be scorned and humiliated with a Crown of Thorns? Would I carry the Cross, the instrument of execution? Would I allow myself to be nailed to a Cross to suffer a slow and agonizing death? Or would I abandon Our Lord in fact and word and embrace what would ensure my comfort for a very small time indeed and separate myself eternally from Our Lord? By the Grace of God, I have not been tested in such ways. This Lent, I must work, when I am full of vigor and when I am tired to serve Our Lord better and better. For I know if I do not work to serve Him better now, when true trials come along I will not stand. Lent reminds us also, that no matter what obstacles we face, that we have the Faith that Our Lord walks with us and that he is merciful.
Lent is a time of strengthening our Faith, of repenting from our sins and resolving to proclaim the Gospel and carry the Cross. Our Lord without sin, carried our cross for us, in this Year of Mercy let us ask for mercy and forgive others and all pick up our crosses and follow Our Lord.
Matthew Houston was baptized at age 16 and came back to the Church at age 27 after falling away. A husband and father of two, he says the Faith defines his family life. He graduated from Rutgers with a degree in history and political science, and now works in international logistics.